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Updated Jan 17, 2024

User-Generated Content: More Than Customer Reviews

Create a UGC strategy to gain consumer trust, solidify your reputation, and boost sales.

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Kimberlee Leonard, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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User-generated content (USG) is an excellent strategy for gaining exposure for your brand while showcasing content from your customers. USG is more than just customer reviews; innovative marketing teams are finding ways to leverage user content effectively to build a bigger brand, generate sales leads, and increase sales

We’ll explore UGC and its benefits and share how to build an engaging marketing plan and sales process that incorporates user content. 

What is user-generated content (UGC)?

User-generated content is authentic content customers generate about a specific brand. It can stem from an encouraging, inspiring and empowering call-to-action framework the brand sets up to raise interest and generate sales. 

While positive customer reviews are the most well-known form of user content, UGC goes further. UGC incorporates unsponsored, brand-specific social media posts and online platform content with images, text, audio, discussions and more. 

Content marketing – creating and distributing online content to a targeted audience – has become a critical customer communication element in marketing. Technology has fueled massive changes in the way customers consume and engage with content, making UGC a powerful content marketing tool for brand recognition, trust and increased sales.

TipBottom line
To boost marketing efficiency, use specific software and services to automate content marketing tasks like keyword research and social media monitoring.

What are the benefits of user-generated content?

UGC is a powerful tool when used effectively as part of a holistic omnichannel marketing strategy. Some brands are wary of UGC because consumers hold power over the actual content generated. However, with the right strategy and framework, UGC can massively benefit brands and make content marketing seamless.

Research shows the following UGC benefits:

Advertising based on user-generated content graph

  • Advertising based on UGC can result in a 400% increase in click-through rates, according to Joinbrands.
  • Power Review reports an 8.5% increase in conversion rates for website visitors served UGC – and a 100.6% conversion lift if they interact with the UGC.

Conversion rate increase graph

  • UGC on a site can result in a 20% increase in returning visitors.

UGC impact on returning visitors graph

Why is UGC so powerful?

UGC is about consumer trust. Communities have always shared stories and experiences. Technology has broadened the scope of experience-sharing with online platforms that allow consumers to share their experiences and help others make better decisions about products and services.

UGC is a tech version of word-of-mouth advertising. Word-of-mouth advertising is already a powerful marketing tool for any business because people tend to trust other people’s authentic experiences. These experiences resonate because the people sharing them have nothing to gain; consumers can gain a real glimpse into the product or service.

Brands can share messages about their products or services, but when someone else spreads that same message, peers, friends, family, colleagues and even strangers are more likely to listen to and trust the message.

Online reviews are a UGC element many of us encounter daily. You may seek user reviews when researching a vacation or purchasing an item from an online retailer. Each step of the customer journey is transparent, whether that involves products, services, packaging, delivery, or something else. Other UGC forms that consumers listen to and trust include social media posts, peer reviews, testimonials, video content, blog posts, and Q&A sessions.

Consumer trust in peer reviews and testimonials

Statistics from the 2022 State of User-Generated Content report illustrate just how much consumers trust and engage with UGC: 

  • 72% of consumers trust peer reviews and customer testimonials more than the same brand value messaging coming directly from a business.
  • Customers are nearly three times more likely to engage with a brand’s social media content than any other content.

Customer engagement by different content types graph

  • 76% of consumers have purchased a product because of someone else’s recommendations.

Impact of recommendations on consumer purchasing graph

  • 64% of consumers have tagged a brand on social media.

Consumer brand tagging on social media graph

  • 75% of users say they’ll seek customer reviews before making a purchase. 

Influence of customer reviews on purchase decisions graph

It’s clear that to gain consumer trust, retain customers, and attract new business, it’s crucial to get people outside your organization creating and sharing content about your brand. 

TipBottom line
Use customer reviews to help your business grow. Ask happy customers for reviews and referrals soon after their positive experience with your brand.

How do you encourage user-generated content?

To build UGC into your business and encourage UGC participation, your brand must engage customers at every level of the sales funnel. These are the sales funnel’s four elements: 

  • Know
  • Like
  • Trust
  • Buy

You’ll grow USG in the first two stages: 

  1. Know. Brand awareness is crucial. It involves marketing your brand and communicating its offerings and core beliefs. 
  2. Like. Use storytelling around the brand’s beliefs to create sympathy and empathy for the brand.

In the next two stages, UGC’s full potential can expand:

  1. UGC evolves with customer trust. The challenge is creating a framework and motivation for consumers to express their brand experience in a way that benefits the brand. Once users generate content, there must be a methodology in place to broadcast that content and allow engagement.
  2. Buying occurs with a continual cycle of feedback and analysis. You’ll constantly monitor and improve the user experience to strengthen the brand, leading to additional sales.
TipBottom line
To improve your online business's reputation and encourage UGC, maintain high-quality content on your website and social channels, engage with social media influencers, and ensure an optimal customer experience.

How can you receive and showcase user-generated content?

With online and social media platforms, there are numerous ways for companies to showcase user-generated content. Social media sites are excellent places to engage consumers because many of your customers spend time on these platforms.

Here are some ideas: 

  • Social campaigns. Tumblr and Instagram allow users to post quick reviews or highlight work. For example, a fencing company’s Instagram campaign to engage users could include customers posting their before-and-after pictures of completed fence projects. A TikTok contest could encourage influencers to try your products and perform demos.
  • Blogs. A company blog is another way to engage your customer base. Encourage users to comment on meaningful blog content you’ve created. iInvite customers and industry experts to contribute guest blog posts. Expert blog content helps build trust with your brand as you provide valuable insights. 
  • User-generated images. Companies can think outside the box even further and use user-generated artwork to decorate a store, pop-up or conference booth. A campaign like this could be paired with social media. For example, taking the fencing company example mentioned earlier, the business could take the images, blow them up, and use them to decorate a booth at a conference, showing their work with real customers. 

Work with your marketing team to design and implement the right UGC campaign for your organization. 

author image
Kimberlee Leonard, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Kimberlee Leonard is an insurance expert who guides business owners through the complicated world of business insurance. A former State Farm agency owner herself, Leonard started her decades-long career as a financial consultant advising on investment strategies before switching her focus to insurance and risk mitigation for businesses. Leonard has developed insurance primers on everything from small business insurance costs to specific policies, such as excess liability insurance. She has also reviewed business software tools, analyzed employee retirement plan providers and continues to share insights on financial topics as they relate to business. Leonard's work has been published in Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Fortune, Newsweek and other respected outlets.
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